2008-12-05

Hot off the Press - Agresearch Media Release "New Centre for Reproduction and Genomics to encourage Collaboration

New Centre for Reproduction and Genomics to encourage Collaboration

5 December 2008

The new Centre for Reproduction and Genomics at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will next week (9 December) be officially opened by the Chairman of AgResearch, Sam Robinson.

The purpose-built building, which will be known as the Christie building (named after AgResearch’s former chairman, Rick Christie) will house scientific teams from both AgResearch and The University of Otago. AgResearch CEO, Dr Andrew West, says bringing together the complementary capabilities of both AgResearch and the University in genomics and reproduction will enable the two organisations to greatly advance in this type of research.

“Scientific endeavour in the fields of reproduction and genomics will help many issues facing the world today, such as sustainability and food supply,” he says. “The future for food supply and sustainability lies partly in how we use our knowledge of reproduction and genomics. The CRG is poised to contribute to that movement.”

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, says the centre heralds a new era for cooperation between the University and AgResearch. “The two organisations’ history in collaboration dates back almost four decades – In the late seventies it started off as an informal network of University and Invermay staff who met regularly to discuss scientific issues, but later it became a formal collaborative effort between Invermay and the University’s Biochemistry Department.” Professor Skegg says with some of the country’s best brains in genomics and reproductive research collaborating as part of the CRG, new research opportunities will be created, new skills will be uncovered and no doubt new challenges will emerge along the way.

The new building features an innovative design aimed at fostering collaboration. AgResearch Chief Information Officer, Dr Phillip Lindsay says a focus on facilitating and enhancing collaborative research was essential in designing the $16 million facilities. “The focus on joint facilities has come from increasing recognition of the need to establish cross-discipline research programmes. The removal of physical barriers, supported by great facilities, fosters an environment for collaboration and facilitates the quest for cultivating and sharing ideas,” he says.

The key features of the Christie building are large, open-plan laboratories, easily adapted to different types of work and large open-plan general staff areas. While the design is modern and answers to the latest accepted wisdom in comfort and environmental consideration, it also needed to be future-proofed. “By going with an open-plan and flexible approach we hope to be able to adapt the space to the inevitable changing pattern of research work. As for our biological containment facilities, we have gone further than just implementing current regulatory requirements, by setting a standard that will take us into the future,” says Dr Lindsay.

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